Date
15 December 2017
Tuesday's silent march presaged the launch of an alliance to ramp up the fight for academic freedom. Photo: HKEJ
Tuesday's silent march presaged the launch of an alliance to ramp up the fight for academic freedom. Photo: HKEJ

Scholars ramp up fight for academic freedom

Dozens of scholars are stepping up the fight for academic freedom after the University of Hong Kong (HKU) council last week rejected pro vice chancellor candidate Johannes Chan for “shocking and inconceivable reasons”.

About 60 formed an alliance on Wednesday to unite the academic community, according to Ming Pao Daily.

The Alliance of Scholars for Academic Freedom was launched after thousands of HKU students, faculty and staff held a silent march to protest external meddling.

Among the alliance organizers are assistant professors To Yiu-ming and Choi Po-king of the Hong Kong Baptist University and the Chinese University of Hong Kong, respectively, and visiting professor Ho Chi-kwan of the Caritas Institute of Higher Education.

They said the HKU council’s decision to overturn the recommendation by its own search committee to appoint Chan sounded the death knell for academic freedom in Hong Kong.

The group aims to reverse the damage by vigorously defending institutional autonomy.

It is looking into the experience of similar institutions abroad to see what it can learn from them.

In a Ming Pao op-ed Wednesday, Chan said he was not surprised at his being rejected but was saddened by the council’s “indiscreet and acrimonious comments”.

Meanwhile, pro-Beijing party Justice Alliance said it is planning a rally on Thursday to protest claims by HKU vice chancellor Peter Mathieson that Beijing was behind the decision on Chan.

Mathieson last week said some “political elements” had put pressure on him and others over their support for Chan.

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TL/AC/RA

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